Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 1 Hansard (17 February) . . Page.. 266 ..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
Which member said that, Mr Speaker? The member who said that was Mr Humphries, when the Government supported the proposal to have a scrutiny process for statutory appointments to government boards and positions.
Mr Humphries: But not on GBEs.
MR CORBELL: I hear the interjection from across the chamber. I ask members opposite: What is the fundamental difference between an appointment to the board of a government business enterprise and the appointment to a board or other position within government itself? I put it to this Assembly that there is no fundamental difference. These people are employed on behalf of the Territory to perform a role, to act with integrity, to act with all the due process that they must follow. I have no doubt that they do that.
What we are proposing here today is that there should be the opportunity for this Assembly to oversight appointments to those boards just as much as the Assembly already oversights appointments to other positions. The reason is the same as the reason for the Assembly agreeing to oversight the appointments to other boards when Mr Moore introduced his Bill in 1994. It is to ensure that it is an open, honest process and that appointments take place on the basis of merit rather than for political reasons. Mr Humphries, when he spoke in favour of Mr Moore's Bill in 1994, said that he did not in any way resile from criticising government appointments if he and his party perceived them to be political. I know that Mr Humphries and his party in opposition did that.
Mr Humphries: Not through that process.
MR CORBELL: No, not through that process. I am not suggesting that it is through that process. We are arguing that we should be able to have this process available to us to ensure that the Government is simply not putting people up for political purposes. We are asking the Government to put forward proposals and justify them on merit. If the Chief Minister is so confident that all of her appointments are made on merit, she should have no problem with presenting them to this Assembly, because she will know in her heart that those appointments are purely on merit. I put it to the Assembly that if the Chief Minister is reluctant to do that perhaps that means that the Government are not putting forward appointments on the basis of merit. Perhaps she feels that there is a risk that some of her appointments are not based on merit. If the Minister has nothing to hide, they have nothing to oppose. It is that simple, Mr Speaker.
I think that puts the case quite clearly. We are asking for some transparency in the process. We are asking for the same level of scrutiny, conducted in a sensitive and appropriate way, as already applies to a range of statutory appointments. I would put it to this Assembly that if these appointments are to be scrutinised they will be scrutinised because they are perhaps even more important than the appointments to other statutory positions. A person appointed to the board of a GBE has an enormous role to perform with responsibility and with due process. We are talking about government business enterprises worth millions of dollars in their trading operations. Why should we not make sure that the people we are appointing to those boards are appointed on merit; that they have the capacity to do the job? I would argue that it is even more important to have a